Man charged in off-campus beating death

University student Leo Kohorst, 22, died Sunday morning in his home after his roommate allegedly struck him two dozen times in the head with a crowbar.

by Chelsey Knutson

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has formally charged a 23-year-old man for allegedly bludgeoning a University of Minnesota student to death with a crowbar over the weekend.

Leo Kohorst, an electrical engineering student, died of significant head trauma in his house around 2:15 a.m. Sunday.

Police arrested Adam Lee Sterling, a tenant in KohorstâÄôs house. He was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday.

Police arrived at the home on the 3000 block of 18th Ave. South onSunday morning and found Sterling on the porch, according to court documents. Inside the house officers found Kohorst, 22, on a couch with a head wound “that appeared to have possibly been caused by a shotgun blast.”

The medical examiner later determined Kohorst had been struck about 22 times by a blunt object like a crowbar or claw hammer. On Tuesday, a neighbor two blocks away said he found a crowbar wrapped in green clothing, but police have been unable to locate it because the neighbor gave it to a man scavenging for scrap.

The documents noted continuing tensions among the roommates. Kohorst, who owned the house, was considering evicting Sterling for breaking house rules.

Sterling, who often wore womenâÄôs clothing, was seen on the day of the murder wearing a green skirt, which was not recovered during a search of the house, according to documents.

Police found blood on a pair of sandals belonging to Sterling, who said he got blood on himself when he put a blanket over Kohorst after finding him dead.

Friends remembered Kohorst, a Farming, Minn., native, as a dedicated student with a “kooky” sense of humor and a passion for music.

Elisabeth Clemens, an Augsburg senior, met Kohorst in a freshman music seminar when Kohorst was still a student at the school. She said they bonded over music, and Kohorst played in the pep band she helped start.

She said they still kept in touch even after Kohorst transferred to the University. Kohorst was “super smart,” she said, and although he was quiet and humble, he was always fun to be around.

“I canâÄôt ever remember him creating any sort of trouble or complaining,” she said. “He was just the sweetest, nicest guy and wouldnâÄôt do anything to hurt anybody.”

At the University, KohorstâÄôs emphasis was on renewable energy, and he was a member of the student group Innovative Engineers. Group, vice president Josh Durand said. Kohorst was working to build a device to generate electricity from water for use in Nicaragua.

Corinne Salone described Kohorst as “unique and eccentric.” She said Kohorst was easy to talk with and the two often stayed up late into the night talking about music, politics and anything else on their minds.

Salone said when Kohorst bought the house he was killed in, he dreamed of fixing it up and spent countless hours working to renovate it.

“ItâÄôs such a shock,” she said. “He could have done anything that he set his mind too.”

Funeral services for Kohorst are being held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. CatherineâÄôs Catholic Church in Farming.